Originally published Sept. 27 at The Daily Princetonian.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who designed the sculptures currently on exhibit outside Robertson Hall, expressed frustration at the Chinese government’s continued hold on his passport that is preventing him from visiting Princeton next month in an interview with The Daily Princetonian early Wednesday morning.
The renowned sculptor and sharp critic of the Chinese government said in the interview, partially conducted in Chinese, that nobody has told him why his passport is held, who made the decision to hold his passport or who currently has it.
“When my probation ended, they said, ‘You are a free man, but you can’t have your passport,’ ” he said. “I told them I have engagements in Berlin and in America, but they don’t care.”
Ai told The New York Times on Tuesday afternoon that because the government was still holding his passport, he would likely be unable to attend a series of scheduled exhibition openings and lectures in Germany and the United States. There are no measures he could take to appeal the decision, Ai told the ‘Prince.’
“In China, there are no steps,” Ai said. “If you try anything, you can easily step into or out of jail.”
Ai said he regretted possibly not being able to attend the opening of his first North American exhibition, planned for the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, or give his scheduled talks at Princeton, Harvard and New York University.
“Since this is my first show in North America, I’m very curious to see feedback from my audience,” Ai said. “I have responsibilities. I have to give back to my audience and support my work.”
“If they never let me out, it will only make me busier,” Ai said. “Then, I’ll just focus on my work.”